General election 2019: Gove denies holding back Russia interference report

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Reuters

Cabinet minister Michael Gove has rejected claims the government is suppressing a report on alleged Russian interference in UK democracy until after the general election.

Sources said No 10 was stalling on releasing the report, which had gained the standard security clearance.

Former head of MI5, Lord Evans of Weardale, is among those calling for the document to be released.

Mr Gove said the report was “going through appropriate procedures”.

“It’s been lodged with Number 10 and it will be published in due course,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Asked if it would be published before the general election on 12 December, he said: “I don’t know.”

The report, by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, was finalised in March and referred to No 10 on 17 October.

It examines Russian activity including allegations of espionage, subversion and interference in elections and includes evidence from UK intelligence services such as GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 concerning covert Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 general election.

Approval for its publication has yet to be given.

Lord Evans, who was MI5 director general until 2013, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ministers should explain why they were not prepared to release the report.

“In principle, I think it should be released,” he said.

“Part of the reason for having an Intelligence and Security Committee is that issues of public concern can be properly considered and the public can be informed through the publication of the reports once they have gone through the security process.”

He added: “If the government have a reason why this should not be published before the election, then I think they should make it very clear what that reason is.”

On Monday, ex-terrorism watchdog Lord Anderson said any further delay would “invite suspicion” of the government’s motives ahead of the election.